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Fantasia is a motion picture and a Walt Disney Studios creation. It was released in the United States on November 13, 1940. Fantasia was the first full-length film of its kind, in that the animation was based solely on famous classical works. This film was only the third full-length motion picture created by Disney and was often regarded as one a piece which was of great importance to Disney.


Mickey Mouse in Fantasia

The film is broken into eight different segments, which represent eight different classical pieces. All but one of the pieces were performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra conducted by Leopold Stokowski, who played an integral part in the creation of the piece due to his overseeing the music in the film.

Animation in the film is mostly cel animation, however there are some abstraction style pieces which are seen at the beginning of the film. Before every piece begins there is a live-action segment where the host of the film, Deems Taylor, introduces the piece and how the animation relates. It was originally released as a road-show going from city to city, however the reviews of the film were very mixed and it failed to ever bring in a large audience which meant that it failed in the box office and left the Disney Studios with economic problems. Since its release in 1940 the film has been re-released a total of six times, gaining in popularity every time. Its gaining popularity is seen by it being only one of two animations on the American Film Institutes list of the 100 greatest American films. [1]

Fantasia, as stated above, is an animated representation of eight different classical works. The film begins with the idea that music brings certain thoughts or emotions into our minds. In the first animated segment, set to Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue, we see reality turn into animation and become less and less representational, as though the listener is getting more involved in the piece. The opening minutes of Toccata are accompanied by real camera shots of the musicians' shadows as they play, set against solid-color backgrounds. At the beginning of the Fugue, a shot of Leopold Stokowski fades into a cloudy background and the visuals switch to animated parts of instruments moving in time with the notes. The instruments become increasingly abstract in their figuration and motion until they are nothing more than shapes and curves moving in a fashion that attempts to recreate the mood of the music.

The rest of the film continues with this idea, but the subsequent pieces are accompanied by far less abstract animation that tells a story for each piece and seamlessly blends with the music. Rite of Spring and Nutcracker are both from ballets, so the music already had a story associated with it. The fact that the stories Disney replaces the originals with fit the music so well is a display of the fact that music can be appreciated and interpreted in many different ways.

The film's most well known segment is known as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" which is the first time in Disney history that Mickey begins to have human characteristics, such as pupils.

Whit Of Voice Talent[]

  • Ed Wynn
  • Richard Haydn
  • Sterling Holloway
  • Jerry Colonna
  • Verna Ferlton
  • Pat O'Malley
  • Bill Thompson
  • Heather Angel


  • Toccata and Fugue - a series of abstract images accompany the music
  • Nutcracker Suite - fairies dance amid the changing seasons
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentice - Mickey tries to charm a broom into doing the chores but nearly drowns when he can't stop it
  • The Rite of Spring - the history of the Earth from its birth to the end of the dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles is covered

There is then an intermission followed by the "Meet the Soundtrack" bit.

  • The Pastoral Symphony - a feast in honor of Bacchus is interrupted when Zeus hurls lightening bolts from Olympus
  • Dance of the Hours - various animals represent the times of day
  • Night on Bald Mountain & Ave Maria - The devil holds an orgy of evil on Bald Mountain until daylight breaks and a group of monks process throughout the forest